Christian Unschooling, Part 1: Background

This post is a response. Actually, it’s a response to several responses to a response to a response to a call for guest posts. Got all that? Doesn’t matter. There were a lot of things said, things that ignited something in me. And because the threads that were ultimately spun off the original spool turned into a mud-slinging fray which I had no interest in joining, I came here… here where I could share my perspective, in a mud-free environment. As the title suggests, this is only part one. There will be more, but first a little background:

A few months ago, I went to a message board that I used to frequent but hadn’t posted on for a very long time. I landed there by following an incoming link on my blog’s stats page. It turns out that someone had posted a link to my FAQs, looking for reactions and opinions to this weird thing called unschooling. And people responded.

Now, I am fully aware that what we do is outside of what mainstream considers “normal.” And I’m also fully aware that people are going to be curious, and have differing opinions, and have misconceptions. I am completely, 100% fine with that.

But can I just say, it’s weird to happen upon a conversation about yourself, one that you haven’t been made privy to? It was the first time it had really happened to me, and it was a very strange, unsettling feeling. And it was made worse by the fact that because I hadn’t posted in there in so long (and felt very much like an invited guest to the party) I didn’t feel right saying anything. I would have loved to be able to say, for instance, “Well, that’s not really what I meant. Let me clarify.” Or, “I could elaborate on that if you’re interested.” Or, “I don’t think you really heard what I had to say there.” Or, “Could I answer your questions to help you better understand?” Alas, like I said, I remained silent. I went about my day, said nothing to anyone, and tried to swallow the fact that maybe I missed an opportunity.

But that’s the nature of the internet, for better or worse. There’s one camp over here, and another over there, and a zillion and one in the middle. Surely there is some common meeting grounds, some neutral territory as it were, but man… that place is tough to find. I rarely fit in with Christian groups, because I’m an unschooler. I rarely fit in with unschooling groups because I’m a Christian. There is something called Christian Unschooling (for which I am thankful, to be sure), but there are differing camps there too, something I’ve recently been reminded of. “We’re unschoolers, but not RADICAL unschoolers. Don’t think we’re radical unschoolers!” Because that would be, apparently, unChristian.

A few brave souls have tried to bridge the gap, striven to embrace similarities instead of nit-pick the differences. Their reward? The mudslinging I mentioned earlier. A friend of mine recently posted this Christian Unschooling post as a guest blogger. Someone else posted a (fairly respectful) counter post on her own blog, and then the comments – and the mud-slinging – began. Christian unschoolers don’t care about their kids! They’re doing them a grave disservice! They’re unChristian! They’re not following the bible! Except they didn’t say it like that. They were, well, mean. And they were judgmental. And they weren’t listening to each other. They weren’t having a dialogue. They were blurbing out a whole bunch of preconceived notions, and they were passing judgment based on one blog post.

I’m kind of… well, I’m flummoxed. What’s a person to do? We’re supposed to get out there and spread the word right? That yes, you CAN be both a unschooler and a Christian. We’re supposed to be able to have intelligent conversations with mature people, not get stoned at the first sign of dissent. We’re supposed to love one another, to embrace differences, to accept other people.

I’m used to being a lone reed… but I just refuse to believe I’m alone in this.

And so, I’m going to do it… I’m going to blog my own feelings on Christian unschooling, and invite your (respectful) comments, opinions, and questions. This is where I’ll be coming from:

1) I am a Christian. By Christian, I simply mean someone who loves Jesus and strives to be more like him.


2) I’m also a radical unschooler. By radical unschooler, I mean an unschooler who also has eschewed traditional parenting tenants in favor of a partnership, one in which there are (among other things) no mom-imposed bedtimes, no chore-charts, no time outs.

I’ll talk about both of those things in much more detail, including my “WHY’s” in Part 2. Join me.

~ Jennifer

See also: Part 2: FreedomPart 3: Humble YourselfPart 4: Radical.

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